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Title: Commercial and non-target species of deep water trawled muddy habitats on the Maltese continental shelf
Authors: Dimech, Mark
Camilleri, Matthew
Gristina, Michele
Kaiser, Michel J.
Schembri, Patrick J.
Keywords: Trawls and trawling -- Malta
Fisheries -- Malta
Fisheries Conservation Zone (FCZ)
Benthos -- Malta
Biodiversity -- Malta
Species diversity -- Malta
Issue Date: 2005
Publisher: Malta Chamber of Scientists
Citation: Dimech, M., Camilleri, M., Gristina, M., Kaiser, M. J., & Schembri, P. J. (2005). Commercial and non-target species of deep water trawled muddy habitats on the Maltese continental shelf. Xjenza, 10, 18-23.
Abstract: Prior to joining the European Union, Malta operated a 25nm Exclusive Fishing Zone that was retained as a Fisheries Conservation Zone (FCZ) following EU membership. The present study was conducted in this FCZ as part of the ongoing MEDITS trawl survey programme. Otter trawl samples were collected from muddy bottoms at depths of 100-300m. The catch from each haul was sorted into commercial and non-commercial components, and fauna were identified and counted. Samples for analyses of infauna and sediment characteristics were collected using a 0.0625m² capacity box-corer. Macrofaunal abundance data for the stations were analysed using ordination techniques (nMDS) and relationships between environmental variables and faunal assemblages were explored by superimposing individual variables on the two-dimensional nMDS plots. The analyses clearly separated the commercial species into two distinct groups of assemblages that seemed to be defined principally by depth: those from inshore and south-eastern stations (depth range 100-250m) and those from north-western stations (depth range 250-300m). The non-commercial species showed a similar pattern with assemblages from inshore stations grouping together; however, the offshore stations had a greater variability in non-target species composition, especially for infauna. For the offshore stations, geographical position seemed to be important since stations off the north-western coast of the Maltese islands grouped separately from those off south-eastern Malta.
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